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Solo celebrations – did Premier League scorers put a halt to the hugging?

PA Sport staff
·4-min read

There was more interest than usual in Saturday’s Premier League fixtures after the Government told players to stop celebrating goals in groups as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic and remains in lockdown.

The rate of infection has risen since a new strain was detected towards the end of 2020. Even clubs have seen a spike in cases that has led to games being postponed – some at the eleventh hour.

Five matches were taking place on Saturday and here, the PA news agency takes a look at how players reacted when goals went in.

Wolves 2-3 West Brom

There was minimal contact between the West Brom players as they secured a huge win over local rivals Wolves.
There was minimal contact between the West Brom players as they secured a huge win over local rivals Wolves. (Adrian Dennis/PA)

There was no greater early test of new celebration protocols than West Brom’s thrilling derby win over Wolves in the day’s early kick-off.

0-1: West Brom tried to keep to the protocols after Matheus Pereira’s early penalty gave them the lead at Wolves, the team high-fived after the opener at Molineux but managed to keep their distance.

1-1: Wolves’ players did briefly celebrate with each other after Fabio Silva had equalised with his first goal for the club from open play.

2-1: There was another huddle as Willy Boly scored to turn the game around before the break – but celebrations were still subdued given Wolves’ previous celebrations this season.

2-2: Another muted Albion celebration met Semi Ajayi’s equalising header just seven minutes after the restart.

2-3: Pereira’s second penalty of the game gave Sam Allardyce his first win as Baggies boss but his players still largely kept their distance for saying how big the goal could prove to be in their battle to beat the drop.

Leeds 0-1 Brighton

Brighton's players hugged on the pitch at the end of their 1-0 win over Leeds.
Brighton’s players hugged on the pitch at the end of their 1-0 win over Leeds. (Jon Super/PA)

Neal Maupay’s first-half goal saw Brighton pick up their first Premier League win since November as Leeds were unable to find a way past a resolute Seagulls defence at Elland Road.

0-1: Maupay gave the visitors the lead early on, sliding on his knees to start a celebration which was largely reduced to high-fives with his team-mates.

Full-time: It was a different story at full-time as the Brighton players embraced having ended their long wait for a league win.

West Ham 1-0 Burnley

Michail Antonio had a unique way of toasting his goal against Burnley.
Michail Antonio had a unique way of toasting his goal against Burnley. (Andrew Boyers/PA)

West Ham made it back-to-back wins with a narrow victory over Burnley at the London Stadium to maintain their place in the top-half of the table.

1-0: West Ham’s Michail Antonio laid on the floor mimicking doing the backstroke before being picked up and hugged by four team-mates after breaking the deadlock.

Fulham 0-1 Chelsea

Mason Mount celebrated with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham after scoring Chelsea's winner against Fulham.
Mason Mount celebrated with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham after scoring Chelsea’s winner against Fulham. (John Walton/PA)

The first west London derby of the season was settled by a Mason Mount goal with just 12 minutes remaining as 10-man Fulham failed to hold on for a draw.

0-1: Having headed to the corner after breaking the deadlock, Mount was hugged by England colleagues Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham while the experienced Cesar Azpilicueta made sure to only share a fist-bump.

Leicester 2-0 Southampton

The Foxes saw off the Saints on Saturday night through James Maddison’s fierce drive and a late effort from Harvey Barnes to move second in the table.

1-0: Maddison fired Leicester ahead in the 37th minute after rolling Jack Stephens and keeping his cool from an acute angle. The midfielder showed similar composure with his tongue-in-cheek celebrations, handing out imaginary handshakes to team-mates.

2-0: In stoppage-time, Barnes ran into acres of space in the Southampton half before darting into the penalty box and slotting past Alex McCarthy. The midfielder dashed off to the corner flag, sliding on his knees before more socially-distanced celebrations with the odd ‘boot-bump’ as Leicester finished off an impressive display.